Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain

Felix Morrow's book, written in the white heat of the struggle, remains a Marxist classic on the Spanish Civil war. It is one of the clearest accounts produced of the movement of the Spanish masses, describing the events in Catalonia and the role of all those involved. This book provides an excellent companion to Ted Grant's 1973 article and the writings of Leon Trotsky on this question and deserves to be studied by all class-conscious activists.

Trump has been summarily banned from Twitter and a host of other major social media platforms after he encouraged supporters to storm the Capitol building last week. While there is a gratifying irony in this, Marxists must soberly consider the implications of this move by the Big Tech capitalists. 

What does 25 December have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? As it turns out, nothing. But the official early history of Christianity has always contained more fiction than fact. At a meeting in London, Alan Woods offers a historical materialist analysis of the origins of Christianity, demonstrating how a revolutionary movement was eventually co-opted and corrupted by the ruling class of its day, and turned into an instrument of reaction. As Marxists, we are fighting for a better life and goodwill between all men: not in heaven, but here on earth. This can only be accomplished through revolution. We apologise for the first few minutes of this talk being cut off.

To mark the holiday period, we republish the following introduction by Alan Woods to a German edition of Karl Kautsky's excellent text, The Foundations of Christianity. Originally published 23 September 2011, Alan outlines the significance of this work, and gives an overview of Kautsky's historical materialist account of the origins of the Christian faith. 

Though there's some controversy over the exact date, it's believed that Ludwig van Beethoven was born today in 1770. If any composer deserves to be called a revolutionary, it is Beethoven. He carried through what was probably the greatest single revolution in modern music and changed the way music was composed and listened to. This is music that does not calm, but shocks and disturbs. Writing in 2006, Alan Woods describes how the world into which Beethoven was born was a world in turmoil, a world in transition, a world of wars, revolution and counter-revolution: a world like our own world.

The following is an introduction by marxist.com editor Fred Weston to the new edition of The First Five Years of the Communist International from Wellred Books (buy it now!) Fred outlines some of the key debates and decisions taken in the first four congresses of the Communist International. This, we hope will serve to place the contribution of Trotsky into the context of the period.

Alan Woods, editor of marxist.com, was interviewed on TAK Editions (podcast of the avant-garde TAK musical ensemble) about art, class struggle, socialism and revolution. In this interview, Alan explains that while art must be free – to explore new ideas, to experiment and to develop – it will never be so under the rotten capitalist system.

We republish here the ‘Report on the World Economic Crisis and the New Tasks of the Communist International’, written by Leon Trotsky in June 1921. In this masterpiece of perspectives, which is highly relevant to the world situation to day, Trotsky analyses the nature of the organic, global crisis of capitalism, of a system being suffocated by its own mountains of debt, speculation and inflation.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born 250 years ago on 27 August 1770 into a petty-bourgeois family in the German city of Stuttgart. A towering genius with an encyclopaedic mind, Hegel revolutionised every field that he dedicated himself to. The impact of Hegel’s ideas cannot be underestimated, and as Marxists we owe him a tremendous debt.